September 24, 2008

Wheelchair Bursts into Flame in Plane Hold

British aviation authorities issued a warning Tuesday about battery-powered wheelchairs, saying one flared up while being unloaded from a plane.

The fire occurred Sept. 7 at Manchester International Airport, The Times of London reported. Baggage handlers unloading a First Choice jet that had just landed after a flight from the Canary Islands noticed sparks and quickly removed the wheelchair from the cargo hold.

The chair burned outside the plane.

Geoff Leach, manager of dangerous goods at the Civil Aviation Authority, said passengers and crew need to be careful about battery-powered items.

"Passengers need to be aware that some items, which are relatively innocuous in everyday use, are capable of posing a serious risk to the occupants of an aircraft, no matter where they are carried onboard and therefore need to be carefully checked," he said.